Soren Kierkegaard – the father of existentialism. Oh how much of my internal life is owed to this man; this legend. So for those of you who aren’t familiar with my mate Soren this about sums him up. Put very very very briefly the key takeaway from Kierkegaard, at least where the existential is concerned, is that anxiety is born from possibility. Kierkegaard took this to a religious place – I have not; but I am still deeply convinced of the aphorism.
So the element in my life that convinces me that Soren was correct about anxiety is weekends as a young single man in the big city. Goddamn – these supposedly idyllic periods between my working weeks are actually the part of my life that bring me the most fear of all. Both the living of them and the inevitable recounting of them to interested or polite enquirers later.
First the living: I have taken a pass on online dating through services like Tinder. I’ve tried them and have just found them lacking, a thought I will expound upon at a later time I am sure. Additionally my professional position as a manager limits my ability to interact after hours with the majority of my colleagues and my remoteness from my youthful stomping ground makes old friends hard to come by. Thus I am left rather a small pool of friends, many of whom have partner commitments, to pester for social interaction over weekends. Now this may seem lovely to some – and end to distraction and ability to indulge in some personal time – This is nice, sometimes, until you are forced to confront the specter of 2 things. First the societal image of single male existence being this wild party or string of women and second the feeling of loneliness that sets in after the 4th consecutive weekend of ‘the usual routine’ of chores, walking the dog, gym and video games.
Obviously some weekends like this are nice, too much excitement and this post would likely be a whinge in the opposite direction. This is where Kierkegaard comes in: Anxiety about the weekends, for me, is born out of the knowledge that yourself and the world at large expect you to be doing something other than that which you are. Somehow one is expected to maintain hobbies, ‘go out’ and also conduct chores consistently every weekend. If for some reason you cannot there must be something wrong with you, some flaw in your character. If you cannot maintain hobbies, you’re boring or plain, If you can’t find friends to go out with you must be unlikable or ugly if you don’t find time to maintain the house you’re considered lazy or a grot.
It seems, however, that the gold standard weekend is a maddeningly realistic goal, that people willing to deal with the superficial nature of modern dating or somehow with friends and acquaintances who posses consistently open schedules and miraculously complimentary taste in movies and food – always manage to pull off this weekend. Only as someone who has tried I consistently find myself falling short in one aspect or another.
To add insult to anxious injury upon returning to work on Monday morning, frequently and very politely, the first thing I am are asked is “How was the weekend?” at which point I am either forced to lie or admit to my failure to uphold the gold standard of single male weekends or offer a suitable replacement for said standard, such as a trip away or similar. The evaluation of the story and look of sad or pathetic judgement that is then received from co-workers on the relaying of an uncompelling tale of mundane time alone is the method by which I am forced to internalize the enormity of the failing and convinced of it’s reality as a failure. A failure that is utterly repugnant as it wastes one of 52 precious annual opportunities to demonstrate prowess.
But I do wonder what it would be like to return to the unconscious state of childhood where ones weekend had no greater societal or self-imposed requirements beyond enjoying oneself. This innocence brought on by naive lack of consideration is a bliss not to be overlooked. It is the thought that were one able to reach this blissful state where both oneself and the world at large did not expect every weekend to be spent pursuing the highest echelon of Maslow’s hierarchical prescription of needs one could be free of the crushing anxiety brought on by the sense that there is a right way to spend a weekend.
Kierkegaard suggested that when presented with the enormity of possibility the mind would swoon. Swooning is exactly the emotion I feel when presented with a Friday or Saturday evening alone -I swoon at the thought that I either need to rectify the lonesomeness of that moment or face the judgement of the world and more damningly -myself.